Negative ads by National Citizen's Coalition and a US SuperPAC are drawing comparisons triggered by an article in The Globe and Mail. We all know how much Harper has abused the control of free speech from environmentalists, scientists, reporters and questioners in the HOC. Here is a very cogent argument put forward by Diane Marie in response to the article which states that third party ads must be considered free speech, else we have none.
12:01 PM on January 25, 2012
First of all, there are laws pertaining to election advertising at the federal level, and other laws (or maybe none) at the provincial and municipal level. Being that I don't live in Ontario, I really don't care about relevant Ontario provincial laws. I do know that here in Alberta, the Conservatives were incensed when unions took to the airwaves during the last provincial election. Fair is not fair, apparently.A negative ad attacking Bob Rae appeared on Youtube when Canada is not in election time. It's time to curb what are clearly unfair attack ads that unnecessarily interrupt the process of good government. Don't we have enough partisanship and ill will already? Ought we not to concentrate on real co-operation? Looks like this government is offering up a toxic environment amidst the secrecy, dirty tricks, labeling with stereotypes, bad mouthing in the press that are hallmarks of bully tactics.
There is a difference when groups such as the NCC engage in public advocacy and when they act as a Super-PAC. The NCC ads were not about public policy, they were personal attacks. Groups such as NCC are limited as to how much they can spend to intrude into an election. In parallel with the Conservatives, they've decided that we must have a perpetual campaign, so they're doing some of the Conservatives' dirty work for them.
Americans are inundated with "free speech" such that no one really knows who's behind the billions being spent to sway their opinion, and their politicians are so busy trying to stay in the money game that they don't have the time or the inclination to actually govern, a process that involves consensus-building and cooperation.
Until the Reformers arrived in town, we've enjoyed a comparatively sane amount of "free speech", but now the election-spending limits are irrelevant when the dropping of the writ is a mere formality. We're in perpetual campaign mode now and I heartily object to it for the simple reason that the aim of the "free speech" crowd is not to inform voters but to overwhelm them with paid opinion .